In September, 2016, the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor celebrated its centennial anniversary – 100 years of dedicated community service and promoting goodwill. Along with the celebration, the group announced its commitment to establishing a Universal Access Playground in Ann Arbor’s very popular Gallup Park. Recently, their dream became a reality at the playground’s grand opening.
What is a Universal Access Playground?
This playground is a unique and wonderful undertaking, allowing children with special needs of all types to enjoy outdoor play safely and more easily than regular playgrounds. Some of the features of the universal access playground include more and wider ramps for easier access and special surfaces that both cushion a fall while supporting mobility devices at the same time. There is fencing to keep children from entering the water, and an open access point for them to enjoy water activities. Lots of mature trees plus a sun shade protect users from harmful rays and “unitary surfacing” means that there are no dangerous drop offs from one surface to another. The list goes on!
Perhaps most important is the idea that kids with disabilities can play in the same place as kids without disabilities while interacting and socializing with one another. Children of all abilities will enjoy the sensory experiences and whimsical nature of the fairy world themed playground. Additionally, caregivers with disabilities are able to move more freely and safely in the playground while supervising children.
Ann Arbor’s park system already includes many locations and a wide variety of activities and play areas. This particular playground is a unique and special addition to the community with different areas designed for different age groups in, what some say is, the most popular park in town. Discover more about Ann Arbor’s Parks by clicking here.
Contributions from the Rotary Club and Others
After several years of discussions and planning, the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor was able to contribute about half of the $1.1M budget for the project! According to the Parks and Recreation website, funding for the playground was provided by the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, Michigan DNR State of Michigan DNR Trust Fund and the City Of Ann Arbor – Government Ann Arbor Park Maintenance and Capital Improvements Millage.
To these forward-thinking groups, we say THANK YOU for giving our community another beautiful, safe, and enjoyable place for everyone to experience the outdoors.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor.
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